July in the garden – between the fresh growth and abundant blooms of June and the fruitfulness of late summer – here it's often a time of heavy rain. Abundant rain sodden foliage collapses and weeds grow rampantly. There are lots of distractions from gardening at this time of year and seemingly overnight the garden looks less than pretty. What a month to have visitors to my studio open days expecting to see a lovely English walled garden in full bloom. I've made a effort to grow some blowsy blooms to detract from the rampaging undergrowth, splashes of bright colour against the backdrop of green . . .
here's the July jamboree . . .
Green wigwams of beans tower over a jungle of vegetables. The peas are now finished; the cavolo nero goes on and on; there's a constant supply of courgettes; the vine has dozens of developing bunches of grapes; there are still artichokes to pick even though we've eaten more than ever before.
In the morning the cucurbit flowers open and attract the pollinating insects – so exotic like flowers from a tropical eden. This one is on a squash plant in the 'Three Sisters' mound – look at those frilled and textured petals and molten gold colour!
We're growing tomatoes in large pots this year, I planted nasturtiums in the edges of the pots and now they tumble and scramble around the edge of the courtyard, the blue green foliage dotted with orange and yellow flowers of complex beauty.
I've noticed cabbage white butterflies idling around the courtyard, a check under nibbled nasturtium leaves reveal their caterpillars. I thought the under-gardeners would find these an irresistible treat – but no! Maybe the caterpillars taste like the peppery leaves they've feasted on?
And finally here are some self-sown or half-forgotten plants that have come into their own this month with fiery flowers that catch the eye and say "this is summer!"
Hollyhocks – my mission to introduce the quintessential Suffolk village flower into the garden is paying off this year, the flowers are enormous dishes of shimmering colour in every shade from white and pale primrose, soft salmon pink, deep pinks and reds to the darkest burgundy.
Verbascum – once introduced they stay and plant themselves were they are happiest, then put up spires of golden flowers.
Dahlias – spiky blooms on a plant left in the garden over winter, a reminder to grow more next year.
Roses – so abundant this year, this beautiful relaxed apricot bloom reflects the sun between the storms.